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I have a corporate laptop with a great processor and 4 gigs of RAM, however the HD is ancient, we're talking 4200RPM here, roundabouts.

Programs run great, but load horribly, horribly slow.

Any configuration/setting tips to get Windows XP to lean as much on physical memory as possible?

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You can Use XP's Prefetch feature to improve system performance :

The registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters contains EnablePrefetcher which may have the following values:

  • 0—Disable
  • 1—Application Launch Prefetch
  • 2—Boot Prefetch
  • 3—Prefetch everything

To change the value, double-click it. You'll then see the Edit DWORD Value screen. Enter the value representing the level of prefetching you want in the Value Data field.

Try to set it to 3 and see whether that improves the performance.

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Thanks Harry. I've up vote you but I need 15 rep to do so ;) I will try this out ASAP but it looks promising. – Jasconius Oct 20 '09 at 19:22
Is 3, Prefetch everything, not the default setting? It is set that way on all three XP machines at my immediate disposal. I was hoping to add another useful tweak. :) – JMD Oct 20 '09 at 19:27
Wow, shockingly it was already set to 3. I guess that doesn't bode well for me? D: – Jasconius Oct 20 '09 at 19:29
XP will preserve up to 128 prefetches. When this limit is reached it will keep only the 32 most frequently used files and dump all the others. So maybe your problem is the opposite: too many prefetches. What happens if you set EnablePrefetcher to 1 and delete all files in c:\windows\prefetch and let XP re-prefetch ? – harrymc Oct 20 '09 at 20:06
Changing it to 1 seemed to have some impact. I'll continue to monitor. – Jasconius Oct 21 '09 at 12:43

One solution to this problem which is increasingly common is to replace the HDD with a SSD. Benchmarks are showing massive improvements in throughput and (subjectively) in overall pep/responsiveness.

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Admittedly, that doesn't directly address your question of optimizing Windows XP. If the loading is slow because it's HDD-intensive, have you tried the usual precursors, like defragging your HDD and pagefile? – JMD Oct 20 '09 at 19:18
Yes, I have done a full defrag and have tried several virtual memory settings. Hardware changes are not an option, I need software solutions only. – Jasconius Oct 20 '09 at 19:21
7200rpm hard drive will be a lot cheaper than a decent SSD at the moment. – Peter M Oct 20 '09 at 20:38
Absolutely. And also much slower, from every review I've read lately. Sometimes cost becomes secondary (within reason, of course.) – JMD Oct 20 '09 at 20:43

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